Sunday, March 5, 2017

Internet of Things and Mobile Location-based Technology

Faubion, Kathy
Hahn, J. (2017). The internet of things: Mobile technology and location services in libraries Library Technology Reports, 53(1), 5-28. doi:
Descriptive Summary: The first chapter of this article concentrates on defining the Internet of Things (IoT). Current technology allows for networks of information, physical items, and data connections within the library, but the IoT is difficult to catalog, search, and access.  Libraries have to find a way to harness all this information and make it findable for library users. As demand for technology-based services increases, libraries have to supply the needs in a reliable manner. IoT goes beyond the use of computers or mobile devices to access information. It includes the small, smart devices which can gather immediate data in an environment and process the information to create data/information for a given situation, such as when a patron is gathering information on a particular topic in the library. Devices which can analyze data about what is in the physical collection as well as connect and network with electronic resources and databases can compile resources to fill the patron’s information need.  The second chapter concentrates on how libraries can use Bluetooth (or other mobile) technology to interface with the IoT using apps to facilitate. As wearable technology and augmented experience evolves, it will be possible to incorporate these new technologies as well and even save gathered data to the cloud. Beacon, an example of Bluetooth low energy, can already be used to help locate information resources in a library. The information which is gathered can also be of use to the librarian.  It can help them see how patrons are using the physical spaces of the library, and what connections are being made there.  This is turn can be of great use in collection and connection development. The idea is that as the patron walks into the library, they are directed by their mobile device to the area of information interest using Bluetooth beacons and given electronic resources to augment the physical collection based on physical location. This is the way to use IoT technology to fill the information need. The third chapter explores a variety of technology and apps which can be used in concert with beacons. Near Field Communications (NFC) can be used to create “smart” objects or displays.  For example, a display of part of a special collection that is frequently used, which would be determined by the number of patrons using that part of the collection. Data could be gathered every time a patron used their device to locate part of the collection. MySQL and Raspberry pi are discussed as platforms for IoT projects as a way to save collected database information. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags are also discussed as a way to document location and inventory use. IndoorAtlas is a platform to map location within a building. Project Tango Tablet is a way to map indoor positioning. Beaconstac actually allows for identification of patron’s library account and position in the library, and recommendations can be made based upon prior searches.  The last chapter talks about privacy and security. The study was specific as to the problems which need to be ironed out for use of the technology. The security of the Estimote beacon system in the library can be at risk when there are many third-party users connecting. The need for many intermediary interfaces (Middleware) to access and compile information means potential breaches. Also, anytime location-based technology on someone’s personal device is used, data points are created. Since the beacons are tracking patrons movements, a hacker could in theory find out a great deal of personal information based on this data. Even though libraries would find it useful to collect data on reading preferences and materials used, this would be linked back to individual accounts and devices. Privacy is a huge concern here. The article suggests keeping collected data from third party usage or deleting data after a period of time.  Also, patrons need to be aware of privacy risks and policies. 

Evaluation: I imagine a scenario where I walk into my public library using my smart phone and Bluetooth. I am looking for information on snakes. Location-based Wayfinder app technology using beacons directs me to the proper place in the library where I can find physical books on the topic, but my smart phone Minrva app also accesses pertinent digital resources on the same topic from the library databases and Overdrive ebooks. I could also use NFC technology and the study buddy app to find other folks who are also interested in the study of snakes so we could meet and collaborate, maybe at an upcoming reptile enthusiast event. In other words, my information need (snakes) is met using all the connections and collections the library has available, tailored to my search. Furthermore, my search can be saved using my library account for future recommendations (do I want to research lizards next?) and also the compiled data of my search can be used to evaluate the collection of the library.  In other words, if several people are doing research on snakes at the library, this means the library may want to invest in more collection and connection materials on this topic. However, I feel many patrons would want to know how much personal search data was being collected and who would have access to that data? Like most technology, I had to try to wrap my brain around how it works, but I see this as the future of the library: A personalized seamless meld of physical and digital resources.

Keywords: Internet of things, mobile technology, location-based technology

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